Mar 23, 2021 • 17M

How Our Coffee Habits Are Changing in the Pandemic

We’re drinking more coffee at home -- and tinkering with how to brew it

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The most significant change in our coffee habits through the pandemic is that more of us are drinking coffee at home, the National Coffee Association reported. Six in 10 Americans drink coffee every day, and unlike soft drinks and juice which have seen a drop, consumption has been steady; online coffee purchases, including apps and delivery, have spiked 63 percent.

Actually making coffee at home (as opposed to getting it delivered), has an upside beyond saving a few bucks. “Making coffee for others is one of life’s great pleasures,” Mark says. “not that it’s ‘important,’ but it’s so easy, such a joy, … and people love it.”

What’s the best way to brew coffee at home? Despite that each person on today’s audio is pretty into coffee, between Mark, Kerri, Kayla, Kate, and me, no one brews coffee the same way.

Mark admits he “may be a little obsessive” about coffee. At home in the Hudson Valley, he has a fancy espresso machine, but he’s not brewing that way all the time “because it is a sort of production.” He also does pour-overs. He says the two things that matter most to him when it comes to coffee are freshly roasted beans and an adequate amount of coffee: about 20 grams for a 10-ounce cup of coffee. “Less tastes watery to me,” he says. “And if it’s more than 20 grams, my hair catches fire.” 

Since he moved back East from the West Coast, Mark has been ordering Mr. Espresso from Oakland, and it tends to be dark; he uses the same coffee for espresso and drip.

Over in the Pacific Northwest, Kerri’s husband, Sean, is in charge of the coffee; he’s devised “a huge morning pour-over ritual and is very fastidious about it,” Kerri says. It involves a cone-within-a-cone situation and Melitta filters. And yes, a superb selection of local coffees. 

Back in Harlem, Kayla says she’s been using her trusted, $25 French press for eight years or so; a couple of years in, she switched to Cafe Bustelo and never turned back.  Whether she drinks it with or without almond milk, her coffee delivers enough caffeine to keep her moving (and she drinks it fast enough she doesn’t notice if it cools). When she’s out on the weekend, she wants to order something she wouldn’t make at home: Most recently, it was a matcha latte (even if Kate gives her grief about it in the audio). 

I used to be an only-buy-coffee-out person (from bodegas and Dunkin or Blue Bottle and wherever). Now I mostly use a Bialetti at home in Jersey City. When I first met the guy I’ve been with for close to a decade now, he had a whole ritual that started with grinding beans in an antique grinder while heating water in the teapot; brewing with the Bialetti on the stove; warming mugs, and whisking warmed milk for my latte. Today, we switch off. 

Not far from Kayla in Harlem, Kate says she’s still working on her coffee routine. “I just feel like we can’t get it right,” she says. She and her husband, Nick, use a Chemex, which she says doesn’t stay hot. “The Chemex people say you can put it over a low flame. But then it boils…so basically, we drink tepid coffee now.” Kate said they enjoy it anyway. But Nick has more than once said, “Our coffee never tastes as good as Mark’s.”